“Bonus Lesson: Debunking the Monomyth: Carl Jung Film Interviews (2); Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero…”; John Ankerberg on “Christianity, the Resurrection of Christ and the Mystery Religions”, including C.S. Lewis and Mircea Eliade; Tom Wright on “The Monomyth” and “The Resurrection of the Son of God”; NEW VIDEO JUST ADDED William Lane Craig “Did the Resurrection Really Happen?”

The following interview (see link below) with Carl Jung offers rare insight into his contribution to psychoanalytic theory which ultimately impacted non-traditional theology and the arts.

A brief biographical note may help explain Jung’s discussion of Freud at the outset of the video. In 1900 Jung read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. This led to a 13-hour first meeting and Freud’s thereby acknowledging Jung as the psychoanalyst most qualified to be a leader of this movement following his death. Freud and Jung corresponded for years, but in 1913 this relationship ended because of irreconciliable differences over the role of human sexuality, specifically Freud’s theory of pansexualism.

A glossary of some key terms Jung uses may be helpful in boosting your understanding of his theory of personality as he discusses it by reviewing the clinical history of representative patients:

Ego: the conscious mind

Complexes: an organized group of feelings, thoughts, and memories that exist in personal unconscious.

Personal Unconscious: a region adjoining the ego and consisting of experiences that were once conscious but which have been repressed, suppressed, forgotten, or ignored.

Collective [transpersonal] Unconscious: the most powerful and influential system of the psyche, stores the latent memory traces inherited from one’s ancestral past, a past that includes the racial history of humans as a separate species, but also their prehuman or animal ancestry as well.

Archetypes: key to understanding the impact on theology, literary studies, as well as psychology, an archetype is a universal thought form (idea) that contains a large element of emotion. The archetypes originate as permanent deposits in the mind of an experience that has been constantly repeated over many generations. In theology, these can become the theological concepts that support a religion’s doctrines. These concepts can mingle and interpenetrate one another.

Persona: This concept defines the mask adopted by a person in response to the demands of a social environment and/or the individual’s own inner archetypal needs.

Anima/Animus: Humans are considered by Jung bisexual animals. The anima is the feminine side of man’s personality; the animus is the male side of a woman’s personality. Thus the male has a feminine archetype, the anima; a female has a masculine archetype, the animus. Though conditioned by sex chromosomes and the sex glands, the male has become conditioned by living with a woman; the female has been conditioned by living with a male.

[The above definitions were adapted from Hall and Lindzey’s Theories of Personality.]

Introvert/Extrovert are also discussed in the video. From Wikipedia we learn,

“the terms introversion and extraversion were first popularized by Carl Jung. …Extraversion and introversion are typically viewed as a single continuum. Thus, to be high on one is necessarily to be low on the other. Carl Jung and the authors of the Myers-Briggs provide a different perspective and suggest that everyone has both an extraverted side and an introverted side, with one being more dominant than the other. In any case, people fluctuate in their behavior all the time, and even extreme introverts and extraverts do not always act according to their type…Extraversion is “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self…Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.[4] Introverts are people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction.”


How did Jung’s personality theory and its constructs get assimilated into a “philosophy” by those hostile to Christianity? Bill Moyers conducted several interviews of Joseph Campbell and produced for PBS The Power of Myth: The Hero’s Adventure. Campbell’s comments in the interviews (go to Youtube to view these) reveal how he appropriated Jung’s concepts and synthesized them with the work of James Frazer in The Golden Bough (see bio of Frazer and The Golden Bough below), Lord Raglan’s The Hero (see below), Otto Rank’s psychoanalytic study The Myth of the Birth of the Hero (see below), and other sources, and patched them together in a theory of myths which implicitly denied New Testament revelation as it portrayed Christ as a mythic figure tied to the archetype of the Hero With a Thousand Faces. [Joseph Campbell’s term monomyth, also referred to as the hero’s journey, is a basic pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives from around the world. This widely distributed pattern was described by Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949)”, Wikipedia]

The major influences on Joseph Campbell, including James Frazer, Lord Raglan, and Otto Rank, are profiled below with excerpts from information available at Wikipedia.

James Frazer: “The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). It first was published in two volumes in 1890; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes. It was aimed at a broad literate audience raised on tales as told in such publications as Thomas Bulfinch‘s The Age of Fable, or Stories of Gods and Heroes (1855). It offered a modernist approach to discussing religion, treating it dispassionately[1] as a cultural phenomenon rather than from a theological perspective. The impact of The Golden Bough on contemporary European literature was substantial.

The Golden Bough attempts to define the shared elements of religious belief to scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, the dying god, the scapegoat and many other symbols and practices which have influenced the 20th century.[2] Its thesis is that old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the worship of, and periodic sacrifice of, a sacred king. Specifically, that man progresses from magic through religious belief to scientific thought.[3]” [Wikipedia]

Major FitzRoy Richard Somerset, 4th Baron [Lord] Raglan (10 June 1885–1964) was a British soldier, beekeeper, farmer and independent scholar. He is best known for his book The Hero, where he systematises hero myths…He published his first book, Jocasta’s Crime, in 1933, and The Hero in 1936. He worked independently of the academic establishment, carrying out little original research but synthesizing existing scholarship into provocative new lines of reasoning. He corresponded widely with scholars and participated in many professional associations, though he never pursued nor was awarded any academic degree. He served as president of the Folk Lore Society, Section H of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Royal Anthropological Institute, and many other organizations. [Wikipedia]

Otto Rank: (April 22, 1884 – October 31, 1939) was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher and therapist. Born in Vienna as Otto Rosenfeld, he was one of Sigmund Freud‘s closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, an editor of the two most important analytic journals, managing director of Freud’s publishing house and a creative theorist and therapist. In 1926, Otto Rank left Vienna for Paris. For the remaining 14 years of his life, Rank had an exceptionally successful career as a lecturer, writer and therapist in France and the U.S. (Lieberman & Kramer, 2012).

Rank was one of Freud’s six collaborators brought together in a secret “committee” or “ring” to defend the psychoanalytic mainstream as disputes with Adler and then Jung developed. Rank was the most prolific author in the “ring” besides Freud himself, extending psychoanalytic theory to the study of legend, myth, art, and other works of creativity.” [Wikipedia]

Debunking Joseph Campbell: Three Scholars’ Perspectives

“Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack”, was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland. He is known for both his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy and his nonfiction, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles and The Problem of Pain.”[Wikipedia]

“Mircea Eliade (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈmirt͡ʃe̯a eliˈade]; March 13 [O.S. February 28] 1907 – April 22, 1986) was a Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigms in religious studies that persist to this day. His theory that hierophanies form the basis of religion, splitting the human experience of reality into sacred and profane space and time, has proved influential.[1] One of his most influential contributions to religious studies was his theory of Eternal Return, which holds that myths and rituals do not simply commemorate hierophanies, but, at least to the minds of the religious, actually participate in them.[1]”[Wikipedia]

“Nicholas Thomas “Tom” Wright (born 1 December 1948) is a leading New Testament scholar and former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England. [He is now a Professor on the faculty of Saint Andrew’s University, Scotland.] His academic work has usually been published under the name N. T. Wright but works such as What St Paul Really Said and Simply Christian, which are aimed at a more popular readership, are published under the less formal name of Tom Wright.

Among modern New Testament scholars, Wright is an important representative of more conservative Christian views, compared to more liberal Christians, such as his friend Marcus Borg.[3] In particular, he is associated with the Open Evangelical position (Open Evangelicalism), the New Perspective on Paul, and the historical Jesus. He has promoted more traditional views about Jesus’ bodily resurrection,[3] about Jesus’ Second Coming,[4] and about homosexuality.[5]”[Wikipedia]

The following excerpt from a discussionat John Ankerberg Christian Apologetics website (click to go to the website for full text) quotes C.S. Lewis and Mircea Eliade on the issue of whether the Christian documents of the New Testament reflect the influence of the archetypes and mythologies of pre-Christian cults and the Mediterranean cultures that spawned these cults.

“Former atheist and Cambridge and Oxford scholar C. S. Lewis emphasizes that the biblical concept of God in both Old and New Testaments is in no way compatible with the nature gods of the mysteries.

On the other hand, Jahweh is clearly not a Nature-God. He does not die and come to life each year as a true corn-king should… He is not the soul of Nature nor any part of Nature. He inhabits eternity; he dwells in the high and holy place; heaven is his throne, not his vehicle, earth is his foot-stool, not his vesture. One day he will dismantle both and make a new heaven and earth. He is not to be identified even with the “divine spark” in man. He is “God and not man.” His thoughts are not our thoughts….20

In fact, Lewis had previously recorded that upon his first serious reading of the New Testament, he was “chilled and puzzled by the almost total absence of such ideas in the Christian documents.”21 In other words, he was familiar with the theories suggesting resemblance between Christianity and the mysteries, expected to find them, and was shocked to discover their absence.

E. O. James concludes,

‘There is no valid comparison between the synoptic story of Jesus of Nazareth and the mythological accounts of the mystery divinities of Eleusis, Thrace, Phrygia or Egypt…. Similarly, the belief in the resurrection of Christ is poles removed from the resuscitation of Osiris, Dionysus or Attis in an annual ritual based on primitive conceptions of mummifications, and the renewal of the new life in the spring.22′

No less an authority than the late comparative religion scholar Mircea Eliade points out that not only is the idea of Christian borrowing from the mysteries wrong, but that any borrowing probably first began on the part of the mysteries:

In 1958, one year before Campbell started publishing his fanciful theories in the Masks of God volumes, Mircea Eliade published in Patterns of Initiation a series of lectures he had given at the University of Chicago in the fall of 1956. In one of those lectures, Eliade said recent research did not support the theories that the origin of Christianity was influenced by pagan mystery cults. “There is no reason to suppose that primitive Christianity was influenced by the Hellenistic mysteries,” said Eliade. In fact, the reverse may actually be true:

‘The renaissance of the mysteries in the first centuries of our era may well be related to the rise and spread of Christianity…. certain mysteries may well have reinterpreted their ancient rites in the light of the new religious values contributed by Christianity.’

Eliade added that it was only much later, when Christianity had to compete with the renaissance of the mystery cults, that Christians began to borrow from the religious symbols of these cults. They did this in order to help them explain their religion to others (not to modify it), thereby hoping to win converts.23

Further, and probably most damaging, there is simply no evidence that the mystery religions exerted any influence in Palestine in the first three decades of the first century. If so, where did the material originate to make Christianity a mystery religion? In fact, one wonders why such parallels would be suggested at all.24 The manuscripts we possess prove that the teachings of Jesus and Paul are those given in the New Testament; sufficient time never existed for the disciples to be influenced by the mysteries even if they were open to the idea, which they weren’t. When the influence of the mysteries did reach Palestine, principally through Gnosticism, the early church did not accept it but renounced it vigorously as trafficking in pagan myths. The complete lack of resulting syncretism is difficult to explain if Christianity was ultimately a derivative of such paganism.”

Bishop Tom Wright’s book The Resurrection of the Son of God goes into great detail to demonstrate the uniqueness of the Christian story of the resurrection. While Rev. Wright does not directly address Campbell’s monomyth thesis, his very thorough discussion capably debunks the monomyth hypothesis and Campbell’s premises. You will find the book is available through Amazon.com and we highly recommend it. Further, you will find that the Bonus Lesson (click here) following Lesson 1B presents a lecture by Dr. Wright that essentially summarizes his book on the Resurrection.

In the video below “Did the Resurrection Really Happen?” William Lane Craig debunks the monomyth as he defends the traditional resurrection narrative. The myth hypothesis, along with other hypotheses, are also considered by Dr. Craig in his apologetics text “On Guard”. See chapter 9 “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” for an appraisal of the myth hypothesis’ serious shortcomings (pages 248-50).

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